SA prepare for Twenty20 World Championship August 28, 2007

Arthur calls for bowlers and fielders to step up

Cricinfo staff

AB de Villiers batted superbly at No. 4, and is likely to bat at that position in future ODIs as well © Getty Images
Mickey Arthur, the South African coach, reckons the team needs to significantly improve their bowling and fielding before the Twenty20 World Championship next month. South Africa won all three one-day internationals on their recent tour to Zimbabwe, but they were disappointing in the field: Zimbabwe scored more than 245 in their last two innings, including 295 for 7 in the last match, at Harare.

"The tour of Zimbabwe came at the right time," Arthur told News 24, a South African news agency. "We took most of our Twenty20 team, and we were able to see what areas needed work. This is a very young and inexperienced side, and I think some of them were shocked by the difference between franchise cricket and international cricket.

"We need to do a lot of work on the bowling, which was definitely off the pace, and we also need to work on fielding techniques. The bowlers know they weren't up to standard, and they will be working hard on getting things right."

Concerned by the performances of the bowlers and fielders, Arthur said the squad would reassemble on Thursday, instead of Saturday as had been originally planned, to work on these aspects.

However, Arthur was more impressed by the batsmen, and was especially happy with the form of Graeme Smith, Herschelle Gibbs and AB de Villiers. "Graeme Smith looked as if he had never been away, Herschelle batted as well as I have seen him in his one innings in Zimbabwe, and AB de Villiers came through very well.

"I told him [de Villiers] that with 50 ODIs under his belt, he was no longer one of the new boys, and should see himself as a senior member of the team. He responded beautifully, and I think we will probably keep him at No. 4 in future ODIs."

Arthur also said a final decision on Loots Bosman would be taken on Thursday. Bosman injured his lower back while fielding at the boundary in the last match, and had to be carried off the field. "By then [Thursday] we will know all the facts, and will be able to decide what to do. I want him to be fit to play in the first warm-up match - I don't want to go into a two-week tournament with an injured player. If they can't get him ready for the first warm-up, we will probably have to call up a replacement batsman."

South Africa's top order was in good form, but they didn't always get support from the middle and lower order. In the third game, they collapsed from 265 for 4 after 42 overs to 299 for 9 after 48, and Arthur said the team missed the presence of Justin Kemp and Mark Boucher. "We have always relied on them to get us out of trouble, and this time they weren't there. Zimbabwe put the boys under pressure, and the inexperience of the newer players showed.

"They will have learnt a great deal - you can talk as much as you like about how much tougher it is at international level, but until you experience it, you don't know. The boys will have learnt a lot."